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Lex Arma
02-03-2009, 5:56 PM
Check out the discussion on the Volokh Conspiracy regarding constitutional issues as they relate to mandating "smart gun" technology.

http://volokh.com/posts/1233708063.shtml

Take it easy on the people who post to this blog, most are law professors and law students, smart -- but they are technologically handicapped.

bwiese
02-03-2009, 7:28 PM
Ding!

Experimentalist
02-03-2009, 7:52 PM
I haven't had time to read this in depth, but two quick thoughts.

One: It is possible to protect electronic circuitry from EMP. Use of a Faraday cage in combination with other measures would be sufficient.

Two: More likely, and perhaps more insidious, is the potential for remote disablement of firearms (a so called "InfoWar" style attack). It is conceivable for an RF receiver to be integrated into the design of a "smart" gun. The electronics could be designed such that receipt of the proper code would disable one specific gun, a subset of guns, or all guns. With such a feature a government could render all guns sold to civilians unusable.

Of course this ignores the possibility of rebuilding the firearm to bypass the disablement.

bwiese
02-03-2009, 7:57 PM
I haven't had time to read this in depth, but two quick thoughts.

One: It is possible to protect electronic circuitry from EMP. Use of a Faraday cage in combination with other measures would be sufficient.

A typical $400-$800 firearm would have room for $30-$40 of electronics & associated nonsense (assuming pricing rationality, which is rare in gov't-controlled devices). Also, this would really create issues with plastic firearms like Glocks & S&W M&Ps (a 'sheld liner' may not be enough).

Already, consumer electronics has all sorts of leakage problems - both emissions & susceptibility. (They generally track each other.) If I were stranded on a desert island with a larger flat-screen TV set, a generator and a roll of wire, I could readily send an "SOS" message home on the HF band.

dexter9659
02-03-2009, 8:17 PM
It is quite ironic this subject came up as a friend of mine (a technologically gifted individual with degree in nuclear science from CAL) just purchased a Spectrum Analyzer for his patenting hobby, which gave me an idea. After looking at his new giant machine, I was reminded of spy movies filled with space age gadgetry. I posed him with two questions without even thinking of the "smart gun" application, "could you make a variable frequency radio scrambler, and if so, what size?"

In short his first answer came rather quickly, "YES". His second answer came after a few moments of thought, "About the size of a cell phone, depending on the addition of coded frequencies and range."

nick
02-03-2009, 8:21 PM
It'd also require maintaining a battery in the gun. Not exactly a good idea.

DDT
02-03-2009, 8:47 PM
Already, consumer electronics has all sorts of leakage problems - both emissions & susceptibility. (They generally track each other.) If I were stranded on a desert island with a larger flat-screen TV set, a generator and a roll of wire, I could readily send an "SOS" message home on the HF band.

Add a DirecTV dish, a blender and a container large enough to make a still and don't bother with the SOS. :D

Experimentalist
02-04-2009, 8:13 PM
A typical $400-$800 firearm would have room for $30-$40 of electronics & associated nonsense...

Depending on the firearm in question. The focus may be on handguns, but long guns offer tons of room in the stock to hold lots O'stuff. :)

Also, this would really create issues with plastic firearms like Glocks & S&W M&Ps (a 'sheld liner' may not be enough).

I'm not sure why. The shield (Faraday cage) really doesn't have to be particularly thick. Consider the cooking cavity of a microwave oven, which is a Faraday cage. The metal on my oven is pretty thin, less than 1/16 inch I'm guessing? It's certainly not negligible, but I'm thinking with creative engineering it could be made to work on a pistol.

Already, consumer electronics has all sorts of leakage problems - both emissions & susceptibility. (They generally track each other.) If I were stranded on a desert island with a larger flat-screen TV set, a generator and a roll of wire, I could readily send an "SOS" message home on the HF band.

You make a good point about leaky consumer electronics, but they don't receive the serious engineering attention that I suggest would be appropriate to this problem.

Experimentalist
02-04-2009, 8:18 PM
It'd also require maintaining a battery in the gun. Not exactly a good idea.

Now this is a curious statement. One can logically consider energy (in this case electrical) in association with ammunition to be dangerous.

But today's firearms have energy in close association with the ammunition, it just happens to be mechanically held in a spring rather than electrical.

Again, given proper engineering development I see no problems with an electrical source near ammunition. We have batteries in all manner of smart weapons after all.

Telperion
02-04-2009, 9:22 PM
Again, given proper engineering development I see no problems with an electrical source near ammunition. We have batteries in all manner of smart weapons after all.
If the energy source in your ammunition fails, then you pull the trigger again, or perform a tap-rack-bang drill. A person with a modest amount of training can perform these drills reflexively and remain in the fight. Please describe for me what the failure drill is for a dead battery on a "smart gun".

For anyone who wants a demonstration in RF leakage, take a handheld AM radio and wander about your house, wanding your electric appliances with the antenna.

DDT
02-04-2009, 9:35 PM
I'm not sure why. The shield (Faraday cage) really doesn't have to be particularly thick. Consider the cooking cavity of a microwave oven, which is a Faraday cage. The metal on my oven is pretty thin, less than 1/16 inch I'm guessing? It's certainly not negligible, but I'm thinking with creative engineering it could be made to work on a pistol.


I have a radio sitting on top of my microwave oven. I can assure you that I don't want my weapon protected by whatever shielding they are using to keep the RF inside MY microwave.

bwiese
02-04-2009, 9:39 PM
Faraday cages work well when there's no openings.

The moment there are seams, gaps, joins there are opportunites for leakage (or signal ingress). That's aside from any EMI/RFI coupled in via the power circuitry.

Dr Rockso
02-04-2009, 9:42 PM
Now this is a curious statement. One can logically consider energy (in this case electrical) in association with ammunition to be dangerous.

But today's firearms have energy in close association with the ammunition, it just happens to be mechanically held in a spring rather than electrical.

Again, given proper engineering development I see no problems with an electrical source near ammunition. We have batteries in all manner of smart weapons after all.

I'm sure he didn't mean from a safety standpoint. If the battery goes dead on your EOtech, the gun will still fire. If the battery goes dead on your smart-gun, you have a funny shaped rock.

Liberty1
02-05-2009, 8:01 AM
Ding!

I knew that would be good :thumbsup:

383green
02-05-2009, 8:09 AM
"Smart gun" technology applies a high-tech solution to a low-tech device in a misguided and futile attempt to solve a non-technical problem.

Experimentalist
02-05-2009, 8:20 AM
I'm sure he didn't mean from a safety standpoint. If the battery goes dead on your EOtech, the gun will still fire. If the battery goes dead on your smart-gun, you have a funny shaped rock.

I was saying that the safety risk of an accidental discharge from having energy sources - electrical or mechanical - can, and are, managed through proper design.

Regarding the "noisy" microwave and other household electronics: A microwave has lots of electronics outside of the cooking cavity that are not shielded, and will make lots of noise on a radio. The microwaves that are actually used to cook your food are up in the Gigahertz (microwave) frequency band, and are much less likely to make noise on your radio. Your experiment shows the noise of the microwave electronics and not the "cooking energy" leaking out. At least, for your own safety, I hope not.

Bill makes a good point about compromises in a Faraday cage being a problem. That is why I tried to emphasize the importance of a solid design executed with competent manufacturing. A concept like a Faraday cage by itself is useless unless you have a designer who knows how to properly implement it. This includes other features like filters on the wire inputs to your electronics that inevitably must penetrate your Faraday cage.

The problem of a dead battery is an important point. I suspect the correct answer is to transition to another firearm.

Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to defend or promote smart gun technology. Were it ever mandated I would probably defeat the darned thing after I got it home.

All I'm trying to say is that given proper design by a qualified engineer, it is very much within the realm of possibility to develop a set of electronics - resistant to EMP - that can be integrated into small arms. Inevitably compromises will arise from such a design. There very rarely is a free lunch.

ptoguy2002
02-05-2009, 9:25 AM
Don't yell at me here, I hesitate to even post this.

Back in school quite a few years ago, I sketched out a few designs for smart guns thinking it would be my senior design project (it wasn't, I ended being assigned to some stupid mars rover project:().

The mechanism to unlock the gun was tied to a 1911 type grip safety, where pressure on the grip safety would activate the system, and if approved a solenoid would activate to pull in a pin to allow the grip safety to go into the fire position. Once in, the solenoid would de-energize and the spring return would lock the grip safety again if it was released. It also had a key lock override, and did a palm print over the grip panel instead of a finger print.
Today, being a little more experienced and practical, I see other problems like G ratings on the solenoid and spring, and strength of that pin to keep you from shearing it off with your hand if you pressed hard enough, batteries and power consumption, etc. The solenoid striker system is a loser.

Also had a couple designs for shotgun pumps, where the pump would engage a lug and prevent the gun from being pumped. When activated by either a mechanical combo lock, either a rotary bike lock type (think the rotating bit on the end of a benelli M2, but three or four of them as rotating combo dials), finger groove push button type combination lock like you see on the single pistol quick gun safes, or a thumb print reader, where you could have a much cleaner read than you could on a pistol. Either way, the shotgun pump lock systems were much more practical then a pistol system.

Nodda Duma
02-05-2009, 9:40 AM
Doesn't Remington make an electronically fired rifle that they've field tested the crap out of and found it works fine?

Remember, the US military has used electronically fired infantry support weapons (and MANPADS) for decades. Those weapons must survive the same environments and testing that all-mechanical systems do.

-Jason

bwiese
02-05-2009, 10:42 AM
Doesn't Remington make an electronically fired rifle that they've field tested the crap out of and found it works fine?

Remember, the US military has used electronically fired infantry support weapons (and MANPADS) for decades. Those weapons must survive the same environments and testing that all-mechanical systems do.

Yes, Remington offered the "ETronix" rifles and ammunition in the 1990s.

It was an utter failure. It worked, but no one wanted it. They were in hunting rifle calibers and generally hunting rifle accuracy is more determined by ammo quality & bbl (most hunting loads won't shoot near what 'match' loads do due to bullet construction variations) than ultrasmooth trigger action. Folks didn't wanna get locked into a limited supply of weird ammo (or primers, for reloaders). The ETronix rifles are kinda collectors items now.

I'll also note that what Uncle Sugar does for electronically fired weapons is on high cost items.

Putting such technology on a Glock or S&W plastic gun is a whole 'nuther thing.

Do remember the purpose of the Smart Gun laws is like CA's 'unsafe handgun' laws: it'ss not to have smart guns but to have a requirement for them such that it's unachievable for cost effective consumer products and thus the market shrinks.

madmike
02-05-2009, 11:49 AM
"Smart gun" technology applies a high-tech solution to a low-tech device in a misguided and futile attempt to solve a non-technical problem.

I can't think of a more perfect way to describe the issue...:thumbsup:

-madmike

Adonlude
02-05-2009, 12:42 PM
Smart Guns are a terrible and unnecessary idea but its fun to brainstorm:

If it were implemented by keeping the standard mechanical connection from trigger to firing pin while adding an electronically switched cutoff pin somewhere in the chain then it should be easy to disable by removing the pin or hacking the signal that controlls the pin.

To make the technology difficult to disable they would have to cut the mechanical connection from trigger to firing pin and make some of the path electronic. An example would be using an electronic trigger like most nice paintball guns. This would make it easy to hack into the electronic signal and make your guns full auto. :p

DDT
02-05-2009, 1:05 PM
This would make it easy to hack into the electronic signal and make your guns full auto. :p

So now a .bin file on my hard drive is a felony?

383green
02-05-2009, 1:17 PM
If it were implemented by keeping the standard mechanical connection from trigger to firing pin while adding an electronically switched cutoff pin somewhere in the chain then it should be easy to disable by removing the pin or hacking the signal that controlls the pin.

I suspect that as long as ammunition is fired by either mechanically striking a traditional primer or applying electrical energy to an electrically-fired primer, any excessively-smart firearm could be fairly easily lobotomized.

If there's a mechanical connection from the trigger to the striker or hammer that gets locked by the electronics, then disable the mechanical lock. The electronics might be left in place or gutted out once they're neutered.

If there's something like a solenoid-operated striker or sear, then hack out the electronics and make the trigger switch directly control the electrical actuator.

With an electrically-fired primer, the lobotomy procedure would be similar to the solenoid-operated striker case above.


To make the technology difficult to disable they would have to cut the mechanical connection from trigger to firing pin and make some of the path electronic. An example would be using an electronic trigger like most nice paintball guns. This would make it easy to hack into the electronic signal and make your guns full auto. :p

For this reason, I think that the ATF would consider any semiautomatic gun with an electronically-controlled fire control group to be a machinegun, just as I think that they presently consider any semiautomatic gun with an electrical circuit between the trigger and primer to be one. I seem to recall reading somewhere that ATF very carefully scrutinized the unsuccessful ETronix system, and only allowed it to be sold because it was used in bolt-action rifles. Thus, hacking the electronics wouldn't have allowed semi-automatic or fully-automatic firing, because the bolt still needed to be manipulated manually for each shot.

On the other hand, it is my impression (I don't have any citations on this) that if you attach a solenoid to the trigger of a semi-auto gun, it's automatically considered to be a machinegun by ATF. Thus, things like installing a remote firing solenoid (as used in some aircraft applications) onto a semi-auto beltfed gun would be considered to be manufacturing a machinegun, even without the presence of a circuit to pulse the solenoid when a trigger/switch is pulled.

bwiese
02-05-2009, 1:23 PM
I actually brought the above BATF MG issues to mention in my response to the Volokh blog.

With constructive possession of MGs so tenuous it'd take a special ATF ruling to not consider as SMGs what I've seen of typical smart guns ...

383green
02-05-2009, 1:31 PM
I actually brought the above BATF MG issues to mention in my response to the Volokh blog.

With constructive possession of MGs so tenuous it'd take a special ATF ruling to not consider as SMGs what I've seen of typical smart guns ...

On second thought, maybe we should encourage smart guns instead of resisting them? :chris:

shooting4life
02-05-2009, 2:14 PM
We do not want to encourage smart guns because when skynet gets activated in a few years it will be able to disable our guns leaving us helpless against the machines! :TFH:

ptoguy2002
02-05-2009, 4:03 PM
its fun to brainstorm:


As an engineer myself, I agree.
Think of all the cool things you could do, put prox sensors to detect rounds remaining in the mag, bolt or slide position and speed; have the processor record round counts through the gun, rate of fire, number of jams per rounds fired, plug the gun into your laptop usb port to look and to adjust the trigger pull.
How about record barrel temperature.
Its awesome to think about and the trick stuff you could do by adding sensors and wiring to a gun.
Hmmmmm, ideas are flowing in.....


If somebody wanted one, great, good for them, their kids are safe.
It shouldn't be mandated though, no way in hell.